November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Community Works

Fathom’s Community Works is a program designed as a way for us to make community service a sustainable part of our culture and inspire others to do the same. This year we chose to focus on “nourishment.” Some activities have included starting a pizza garden for Hartford city kids, volunteering at the Community Farm of Simsbury and more.

To wrap up our activities for the year, Fathom will close its doors for a half-day in mid-November and work in Foodshare’s Bloomfield location as shoppers’ helpers, turkey handlers and warehouse assistants for the Turkey and $30 program, which we are also participating in. To help us donate, click here.

How would you spend your $5?

In preparation for our volunteering, we participated in Foodshare’s Hunger 101 Program. Mark Cherrington, Foodshare’s Director of Communications, came out to us to educate us about hunger in our state and give us a little insight into situations that might cause someone to need food assistance.

After watching this video, a few of us were asked to be service providers and the rest of us were given actual profiles of people on food assistance in our area.

  • One of us was a husband in a family where both parents were employed with a combined monthly income of $2,600. After their non-negotiable expenses, this family had $4 a day to spend on food for their entire family.
  • Others were single, working moms living on a food budget of $5 a day or people who were living on retirement income of $1,120 a month with $6 a day for food.
  • One of us was a 42-year-old builder who couldn’t work because of an injury with $3 a day for food after expenses.

Mark had envelope after envelope of situations that put people in the really tough position of worrying about how they would feed themselves and their families.

Each person had to go around the room to stations such as Social Services, a food bank and a bodega.  At Social Services, we got to see how a 24-page application would only provide some of us with an additional $1-$2 a day for food and also how a form in a foreign language would limit the aid available to you. At the bodega, we saw just how little you can buy with $4-$8 a day. At the Food Bank, we were given food but in limited quantities with limited options so there would be enough for everyone.

Joe had the tough job of turning away hungry customers.

Mark also discussed a recent study from the Bridges Out of Poverty/Getting Ahead program that found that the middle class tends to focus on concerns regarding the future – sending the kids to college and having enough money for retirement. The wealthy tend to be concerned with things past-centric – living up to family standards and doing other things that their wealth class has deemed important. Those living in poverty are living in crisis all the time and unable to focus on future hopes because they need to worry about the present. This really hit home for a lot of us.  The Bridges Out of Poverty/Getting Ahead program is one of the initiatives that Foodshare is pursuing to help people become self-sufficient so they no longer need food assistance.

Last year, Foodshare provided 10 million meals in this state, which seems like so much, but in reality it only addressed one third of the need. As I mentioned earlier, in addition to our volunteer activity, Fathom is collecting money and turkeys for the Turkey and $30 campaign. If you’re interested in helping, donations can be made online and we’ll be collecting turkeys at our office on Monday, November 18th. Your $30 donation provides three meals a day for someone for an entire month.  If your company or group is interested in volunteering with Foodshare, I recommend you contact them about their Hunger 101 program.

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Posted by: Jennifer Ford
Email the author: jennf@fathom.net